INVISIBLE LIVES - Thinking critically about transgender issues

Juliet Jacques

Wednesday, April 18 2012 at 7:30PM

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Juliet Jacques

What's the talk about?

The emergence of gender variant people, practices and identities following the publication of Magnus Hirschfeld’s Transvestites (1909) and the inter-war invention of sex reassignment technologies posed considerable challenges to conservative, socialist, feminist and gay/lesbian politics: if ‘male’ and ‘female’ were no longer true, then what was? 

Consequently, transgender people became an object of fascination, and plenty was written about them – by the mainstream media, feminists and the medical establishment whose management of transsexualism has proved especially controversial – with transgender people themselves frequently excluded from the conversation, with their identities erased or discounted, or having their experiences framed by people or outlets with no lived experience of being transgender.

Juliet Jacques, author of the Guardian’s Transgender Journey series, which documents the gender reassignment process from a first-person perspective, critically examines some of the ideas and myths that grew around transgender people, and the gulf between mainstream political and media discussions of transgender issues and the autonomous transgender theory and identities that developed in response.